A NEWPORT thug who throttled an innocent man until he passed out during a terrifying street robbery can have no complaint about his tough jail term, top judges have ruled.

Steven Rhys James, 25, had been out of jail for just two weeks when he grabbed Daniel Whalley, choking him unconscious and emptying his pockets with another mugger.

James, of Hawthorne Anenue, Somerton – previously convicted for attacking his own father – was jailed for four years at Cardiff Crown Court in February, after he admitted robbery.

Yesterday, three senior judges at the Court of Appeal in London rejected a sentence challenge, saying his punishment was definitely not “manifestly excessive.”

Mr Justice Wilkie said Mr Whalley, 27, was walking through Somerton when he was targeted by James and his accomplice, Daniel Fry, 25, at about 7.30pm on January 4.

He was pushed from behind and Fry told him: “Empty your pockets.” When the victim refused, James put him in a chokehold as Fry punched him.

Mr Whalley panicked because he could not breathe, eventually passing out. When he came to he found his mobile, keys and tobaccogone.

Police arrested the muggers the next morning, with James found to have the tobacco on him. Despite initial denials, the pair eventually pleaded guilty to the offence at a preliminary court hearing.

Fry, of Somerton Park, Newport, was handed a two year sentence because of his lighter criminal record, the appeal judge said.

At the time of the robbery James had only been out of prison for a fortnight, having served part of a two-year sentence for another robbery.

On appeal, counsel, Ben Waters, argued the judge erred by increasing James’ sentence so radically.

But Mr Justice Wilkie, sitting with Lord Justice Jackson and Sir Colin Mackay, said: “The judge was entitled to consider that the two recent previous convictions for offences of violence were substantial aggravating factors.”